Summer is always a happier time throughout the year. People go on holidays, the weather is the most favorable as well. The most popular way of having a summer rest is either mountains or water activities. It was the universal constant of human nature, and it still remains even nowadays, modern, the world of offices and a variety of online jobs. On the other hand, the most modern way of having a good summertime is festivals. It is quite young, not more than 100 years.
Slovenes are also keeping the tradition of summer festivals. Here, it went from religious and cultural traditions. Slovenian people like to dance, sing, and create delicious food. Exactly all these transformed into the Slovenian way of a summer festival. The Ljubljana Festival is the biggest one. It unites locals as well as foreigners. It shows the culture of the country as well as it is open for the other ones. The Ljubljana Summer Festival is a place of freedom and art. Therefore, it is a popular touristic event. Let’s find out more about it, and we’ll prove to you that it is definitely worth to be visited.
The Ljubljana Festival is a huge summer event. First of all, because of its durability. The most prolonged was the festival of 2015. At that time, it took place from the end of June to the end of September, which is an incredible duration. Now, the festival is usually happening in two months. However, the founders created a smaller “winter version” instead (approximately 4-5 days).
Secondly, it is the most important festival for Slovenians because of its history. It has been taking place since 1953. Moreover, the festival became international in 1977 because it became a member of the international organization of the European Festival Association (EFA), based in Belgium, and International Association of Fine Arts (ISPA). Those two are one of the biggest European festival organizations that bring together more than 111 festivals from 40 countries.
The festival is funded by the Municipality of Ljubljana and organized by Festival Ljubljana Public Institute. The director is Darko Brlek, an artist himself, a clarinetist, and a manager of the festival since 1995.
The official site of the festival is http://www.ljubljanafestival.si where you can see dates, future artists, and buy tickets.
The Ljubljana Festival always was the meeting point of the artists driven by creative energy and a desire to provide the best possible performance to audiences. It demonstrated great results in attracting people from all over the world as well as providing local and international shows equally. Thus, some years ago, it was awarded the Golden Honorary Medal of Freedom, that is the highest award of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, for its tremendous contribution to the Slovenian cultural life.
The headquarters of the festival is located in Križanke, a beautiful former monastery complex. It was established in the 13th century, moreover it was a seat of the Order of Teutonic Knights. Hence, the only atmosphere is quite unique. In the 1950s, the famous architect, Jože Plečnik, renovated it in the Renaissance style. Besides, he was responsible for the redesign of Ljubljana’s city center. So, the city and the festival is connected by all the means of history and art.
The Summer Festival Ljubljana also officially serves as an ambassador of Slovenian art, language, and culture, as it is the part of European Festivals Association. The Križanke venue of the festival annually hosts over 80 kinds of concerts, opera productions, theatre performances, musicals, exhibitions, and poetry readings. Moreover, all these artists are performing for 50,000 visitors each year.
The festival gave the stage for the world-famous symphony orchestras, including New York and Israeli Philharmonic Orchestras, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra Hangzhou, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. And St. Mary’s Theater Orchestra of St. Petersburg, some opera houses, among which was the most prominent, are the famous Academic Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Scala in Milan took place here as well.
The famous artists that performed here were Claudio Abbado, Valery Gergiev, Sir Simon Rattle, Riccardo Chailly, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Ennio Morricone, Riccardo Muti, Mstislav Rostropovich, En Shao, Fuat Mansurov, Krzysztof Penderecki, Michael Nyman, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ivan Repušić, Paata Burchuladze, José Cura, Jose Carreras, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Inva Mula, Leo Nucci, Ramón Vargas, Joseph Calleja, Bernarda Fink, Marjana Lipovšek, Yuri Bashmet, Denis Macujev, Yehudi Menuhin, Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin, Alexander Rudin, Ramin Bahrami, Ning Feng, Misha Maisky, Elīna Garanča, Dubravka Tomšič, Mojca Zlobko, Vinko Globokar, Miloš Karadaglič, 2 Cellos, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, St. Petersburg Boris Eifman State Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Wiener Staatsballett and so on.
The program of the festival varies from year to year. Everything depends on the number of artists, availability of places, weather, sold tickets, and many other factors. On the other hand, there are some traditional events organized within the festival as well as during the time of the festival. This means that the Ljubljana Festival became something more than just a summer festival. It is a whole year of activities. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Slovenian Music Days
It is a four days event that takes place in the late spring. The main purpose of it is introducing the new compositions of Slovenian music. Musicians of all the genres gather to present their works, as well as music critics, gather to evaluate them. That is why the festival is divided into concert symposium parts. Nowadays Slovenian Music Days festival is enriched with accompanying events, such as round tables, exhibitions, book presentations. Moreover, since 2009, it is annually organized a music workshop for children there.
It is dedicated to young musical talents. Here, the winners of the National Competition for Young Musicians are introduced to the public. From 2009, the event became international, hence a lot of musicians from the neighboring countries could participate as well.
This is part of the national New Year’s celebration. There are a lot of events taking place at Ljubljana Castle with a decent amount of music, creative workshops, exhibitions, and so on. Moreover, the Christmas celebrations are even wider. The biggest celebration is located in the Old Town of Ljubljana. Usually, it is crowded a lot, but it’s worth it because people are waiting for fireworks launched from the Ljubljana Castle Hill. Another unique place is Lake Bled, that is picturesque by itself, but Christmas decorations make it and the town even more atmospheric.
Events at Ljubljana Castle
From 2000 up to 2010, this was a part of the Summer Festival Ljubljana. However, in 2011, the organizations decided to separate them in order to give more cultural experience for tourists. Therefore, it became the place of most of the traditional cultural events, among which art exhibitions were showing cultural and historical heritage, architecture, and the revival of folk and national tradition as well as live performances.
Film Under the Stars is another event taking place in Ljubljana Castle. It is the annual open-air cinema, and one of the most visited summer events. Here is showed both the golden heritage of cinematography and some new films of still unknown directors.
Is It Worth to Visit?
The Ljubljana Summer Festival means a lot to the citizens of Slovenia. It is more than just a festival. Now, it is the history, the culture, emotions. Most important, it is already the way of life. World’s festivals are diverse. Some of them are festivals of one type of art, some of them are festivals of one genre, whereas some of them are a mixture of everything. The Ljubljana Summer Festival is not this case, however, it mixes a lot inside.
The ideal way to characterize the festival is the word “essence” because it has only essential inside. The various music but only the chosen genres, such as classic, jazz, blues, rock’n’roll, and some others. It has other activities, but they are theater, alternative cinema, cultural events. The festival does not bring the mass product, but people come here at great number every year.
The point is that this festival is something more than just taking rest. We can take a rest watching some movies. However, it is not the same as watching a complex historical documentary or a highly philosophical non-niche film. The same is here. The festival fosters people to spread horizons, to think out of their routine.
Furthermore, the festival creates a nice start for a young artist as well as for mature people who just became artists. That is why it became almost immortal in terms of duration. The festival is less commercial but more artistic and philosophic. This means that people who are visiting it are the same.
That is why the festival worth it. Of course, classical music or modern theater is not enjoyable for everybody, but definitely, this is what the organizers wanted. They provided the audience with an alternative type of festival, and people liked it. That’s why you should at least try. There is a great possibility you will like it.